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Judge delivers blow to controversial Sand Hills transmission line project

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge William Martinez revoked a federal permit that would have allowed the Nebraska Public Power District to kill or severely disturb the endangered American burying beetle as a consequence of building its R-Line project. 

LINCOLN — A federal judge has delivered a blow to a controversial project to extend a high-voltage, electrical transmission line through Nebraska's Sand Hills.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge William Martinez revoked a federal permit that would have allowed the Nebraska Public Power District to kill or severely disturb the endangered American burying beetle as a consequence of building its R-Line project. The 225-mile, 345-kilovolt transmission line would extend from near Sutherland, northward to Thedford, and then eastward to near Clearwater.

Tom Kent, the chief executive officer of NPPD, said Thursday morning that the ruling will delay but not stop the project.

"The project is still very important to the people of Nebraska and critical to improve the reliability of the electrical system," Kent said.

A year ago, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service gave the OK to NPPD's "incidental take permit," which laid out the utilities' plan to mitigate the impact on the endangered beetle and cultural sites in the path of the transmission line. The approval had opened the way for construction to begin... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

LINCOLN — A federal judge has delivered a blow to a controversial project to extend a high-voltage, electrical transmission line through Nebraska's Sand Hills.

On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge William Martinez revoked a federal permit that would have allowed the Nebraska Public Power District to kill or severely disturb the endangered American burying beetle as a consequence of building its R-Line project. The 225-mile, 345-kilovolt transmission line would extend from near Sutherland, northward to Thedford, and then eastward to near Clearwater.

Tom Kent, the chief executive officer of NPPD, said Thursday morning that the ruling will delay but not stop the project.

"The project is still very important to the people of Nebraska and critical to improve the reliability of the electrical system," Kent said.

A year ago, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service gave the OK to NPPD's "incidental take permit," which laid out the utilities' plan to mitigate the impact on the endangered beetle and cultural sites in the path of the transmission line. The approval had opened the way for construction to begin on the $400 million project.

But a lawsuit was filed by a Colorado landowner that claimed, among other things, that the wildlife agency had failed to adequately address effects on the endangered whooping cane and had ignored the latest study on the number of cranes that might be killed in collisions with the R-Line.

Thus, the approval granted a year ago was revoked.

Kent said that he wasn't immediately sure if NPPD would have to submit more information to the Fish and Wildlife Service and that lawyers were still reviewing the ruling. He said that the utility had provided several alternative routes in the O'Fallon's Bluff area. 


Source: https://www.omaha.com/news/...

JUN 19 2020
http://www.windaction.org/posts/51360-judge-delivers-blow-to-controversial-sand-hills-transmission-line-project
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